Essendon have sacked head of football Dan Richardson on the eve of the trade period, and there could be more casualties to come.
New president Paul Brasher promised to hold a brutally honest review of the club following the Bombers' slide to 13th place this year.
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Richardson, who has spent three years in his role and played a major role in luring Ben Rutten from Richmond in 2017, became the first major axing.
Rutten is now the senior coach of Essendon after taking over the reins from John Worsfold.
Richardson's departure comes during a tumultuous period for the Bombers, who are already set to lose several high-profile players.
Star trio Joe Daniher, Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia are all set to talk out on the club, with Rutten left with a large void to fill after succeeding John Worsfold as coach.
Questions have understandably been raised about Rutten and the culture at the club, and the latest upheaval will no doubt only intensify that scrutiny.
The latest bombshell comes before a crucial trade period for the Bombers, who are tipped to take two top ten picks at this year’s draft in exchange for a likely No.7 pick as free agency compensation for Daniher's Brisbane Lions defection.
Former Essendon player Brendon Goddard, who knows Richardson during their time together in the AFL, says the problems at the club are more extensive than around just one man.
“Little bit surprised, I ask the question if he is the biggest problem? They’re in position to make change, Paul Brasher the review has started, and he’s got his first victim,” Goddard said on AFL Trade Radio.
“Dan is a good friend of mine and he was my manager.
“I didn’t get to see him enough as a footy manager, as a friend I can be a bit blinded as to whether he was a problem or good at his job. Hard for me to say anything.
“I just question if he is part of the problem, not the problem.”
New president quick to stamp his mark
Essendon's new president alluded to the fact that some tough decisions needed to be mad at the club when he took over.
"We had a disappointing season, and a particularly (poor) half a dozen last rounds," Brasher said earlier this month.
"The coming weeks will be about listening and digging to understand exactly where we are.
"We can't and won't ignore the rest of the club, who are crucial to our success and in some cases are the critical front line of contact with our members and supporters.
"We will be doing a temperature check talking to our people across the rest of the club."
Earlier this year, Essendon great Matthew Lloyd declared the Bombers had become a laughing stock of the competition, saying the AFL club would continue to wallow in mediocrity until they fronted up to their issues.
It remains to be seen just how brutal Brasher's review of the club will be, but there's a growing consensus there will be others who follow Richardson out the door.
Daniher and defender Saad have already informed the Bombers they want out, leaving Rutten with an uphill battle to get Essendon back into finals contention next year.
The Bombers haven't won a final since 2004, and they produced just one victory in their last 10 matches of the 2020 season.
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